Progressive Party sets ambitious fund raising goals

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(Host) Progressive Party leaders are setting ambitious fund raising goals for the 2008 gubernatorial race.

They’d like to raise a million dollars so that Anthony Pollina can wage a competitive campaign against Republican incumbent Jim Douglas.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Backers of Anthony Pollina’s run for governor have reached several basic conclusions.

One, to have any chance of defeating incumbent 3 term Republican governor Jim Douglas, Pollina must have an opportunity to go head to head against Douglas – this means there can’t be a Democrat in the race.

And second, Pollina is going to need close to a million dollars to have a reasonable chance to win.

Burlington Rep. Chris Pearson is helping to organize the Pollina campaign. He says he’s disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the spending limits in Vermont’s campaign finance reform law because this means it’s going to take a lot of money to run against Douglas:

(Pearson)"I think if you examine past campaigns, clearly a huge – at least half of the money – goes to put ads on TV, but also print ads, printing flyers, having campaign staff to get volunteers energized on the ground… It’s a big undertaking to communicate a message and coordinate a campaign across the state."

Pearson says Pollina is also going to need the help of Democratic donors to reach this goal:

(Pearson)"I think we all understand that a head to head race is important and necessary if we’re going to be able to oust Douglas and so ultimately this is going to require from our end some support from Democrats and that would include fundraising support."

Pearson thinks the outcome of early fundraising efforts will be a good barometer of public support for Pollina:

(Pearson) "Part of the challenge for us is to find out if Vermonters are interested in a serious head to head race with Pollina versus Douglas and I think there are a lot of signs that say they are."

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks the Progressives may have a hard time reaching the million dollar goal because they don’t have a national political party, like the Republicans and Democrats, that can funnel several hundred thousand dollars to a gubernatorial campaign:

(Davis) "But $500,000 is probably enough for a statewide candidate to be competitive- to pay for an organization, to pay for some television and radio advertising, to do polling, to do mailings, to do the other sorts of communications efforts that a statewide candidate needs to do. But even reaching that may be a challenge for a Progressive candidate."

Davis also believes that Pollina will end up in a head to head contest against Douglas because he thinks it’s unlikely that any of the 3 Democrats currently looking at this campaign will enter the race.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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